Monday, March 03, 2008

Jennifer Higdon: The hot composer?



Today I interviewed Allan R. Scott, music director of the Helena Symphony, for a story for my newspaper, The Sandusky Register, advancing this Saturday's Firelands Symphony Orchestra concert, where Mr. Scott will serve as the guest conductor. (Mr. Scott is one of the finalists for the Firelands music director job.)

I noticed that Scott seemed to be more interested in modern music than some of the other conductor candidates I've met, so I asked him who his favorite living composers are. He mentioned John Corigliano and John Adams, names that don't really surprise. His repertoire listed on his Web site includes Adams' "Short Ride in a Fast Machine." I've always wondered why the piece doesn't get performed more by regional orchestras.

But I was surprised that Scott went on and on about how much he likes Jennifer Higdon. He's performed her "blue cathedral" in concert and told me audiences have reacted really well to her work. He also said Higdon gets so many commission requests she can't keep up with them.

Higdon was nominated for a 2008 Grammy for "Zaka" on eighth blackbird's "Strange Imaginary Animals" album. She didn't win (Joan Tower won instead for "Made in America") but the album itself nabbed a Grammy for eighth blackbird for "Best Chamber Music Performance."

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